Premier League

Wenger: No plans for Bale

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Fri, 01 Mar 2013 11:21:00

Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala is flattered to be linked with moves to Manchester United and Tottenham.

Reports have claimed United and Tottenham are keeping tabs on Mangala as they look to bolster their defensive options next season.

Italian giants AC Milan are also thought to be confirmed admirers of Mangala as Porto brace themselves for moves for the centre-back.

The 22-year-old has impressed for Porto this season in the UEFA Champions League and he is regarded as one of the best young defensive talents in Europe.

Mangala insists he is happy at Porto, but admits he would be interested in a move to the Premier League.

"I have a contract here till June 2016, however all players want to play one day in the top league in Europe," Mangala told Sky Sports. "I am no different to that.

"To be linked with clubs of the stature of Tottenham or Manchester United is the best feeling.

"I want to finish the season strongly and see at the end of the season if the reports are true."

Cheltenham defender Michael Hector is set to start after his loan spell from Reading was extended for a second month.

The 20-year-old has made seven starts for the club but could have a different centre-back partner against the Dons if veteran Steve Elliott fails a late fitness test on a knock picked up in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Fleetwood.

If Elliott does not make it then Manchester United loanee Luke McCullough is likely to step into the side.

Full-back Sido Jombati is set for a recall as Cheltenham look to close the four-point gap between themselves and the automatic promotion places in npower League Two.

Young defender Harry Hooman is Mark Yates' only long-term absentee with a foot injury.

AFC Wimbledon will check on Jonathan Meades ahead of the trip.

The on-loan Bournemouth defender failed a late fitness test on an ankle injury ahead of Tuesday night's 1-1 draw against Plymouth.

With fellow full-backs Curtis Osano (calf) and Jim Fenlon (back) still missing, centre-half Mat Mitchel-King will deputise at right-back again if Meades is ruled out.

Midfielder Harry Pell suffered a gluteal injury in the pre-match warm-up against Argyle but managed to play the full 90 minutes and scored the Dons' goal, so he should be fine to continue.

On-loan Cardiff forward Jesse Darko is pushing for a full debut after coming on as a half-time sub.

Rashid Yussuff is a doubt through illness, fellow midfielder Peter Sweeney has a toe injury and defender Will Antwi a hip knock.

The Black Cats midfielder has been struggling for some time with the problem, and visited a specialist earlier this week.

Manager Martin O'Neill said: "He went to see the specialist and he has given him an injection. At this moment, he is hoping in the next couple of weeks that that would cure things.

"But if it didn't do, then we might have to have another look at things, so we will see how it goes."

Asked if surgery might be needed if the injection does not solve the problem, O'Neill replied: "That has been mentioned, but we will see.

"I wouldn't start to draw too many conclusions from that at the moment, but that might be the case."

Bale cracked in a superb last-minute strike to secure a 3-2 win at West Ham on Monday night, which moved Spurs up into third place in the Premier League.

The Welshman - once scouted by Arsenal when a youngster at Southampton - is being heralded as one of the best in Europe, up alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Wenger, though, insists his team must concentrate on delivering a performance themselves rather than worry about what Bale might do.

"We don't plan for anybody. It is always the same - focus on our strengths and forget about your opponent," said Wenger. "There is nobody special that you least like to face. All players have different qualities.

"What is important when you are a manager is that you are focused, that hasn't changed over the last 15 years, you always make sure your team is at its best, prepares well and focuses on playing the football that we love.

"What is important before a game like that is just to focus on our game and forget all the rest."

Despite their recent disappointments against Blackburn in the FA Cup and losing at home to Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash, Arsenal have found some form in the Premier League, where they are unbeaten in five games winning the past three.

Should Arsenal - who are now just two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea - secure victory on enemy territory this weekend, the gap on Spurs would be reduced to just one point.

"It is an interesting game because there is something at stake," said Wenger.

"We are confident and we are on a good run in the Premier League. If you look at our record, it is very good in recent games, so we will just focus on our strengths, that is it."

Wenger added: "Sunday is a very important game because it's in the final part of the Premier League season, the outcome will give a big boost to the team who wins it.

"This is a derby and [will be] a very intense game, as usual, it is always very tight, always a big fight.

"If you look at our record in the last 15 or 16 years, it is very good. Of course we want to continue to maintain that record."

Arsenal will be without defender Bacary Sagna (knee) on Sunday, while midfielder Abou Diaby is rated as 50/50 with a calf problem

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